John Linden is the President of Seismic Games. The studio is developing Marvel Strike Force with FoxNext, and Blade Runner Revelations with Alcon Entertainment. Prior to Seismic Games / Grue Games, John Linden had joined Activision Blizzard as the Studio Head of Beachhead after 15 years as the CEO and CTO of venture-backed Internet technology companies (Planet Alumni / iModules, Adknowledge, OpenX). John was responsible for Call of Duty: Elite and expanding the Call of Duty franchise into mobile as a second screen experience, resulting in over 22 million player accounts that integrated into Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Ghosts and Advanced Warfare. John’s final project with Activision was creating Skylanders Battlecast, a free to play strategic mobile card game that ties physical trading cards into a 3D digital battle game using augmented reality. With Seismic Games working on multiple VR releases, John is excited about the future of mixed reality media and bringing emerging technologies to the mass market.
Chris Early joined Ubisoft’s San Francisco office in February 2010. As Vice President of Partnerships & Revenue, Early spearheads Ubisoft’s business partnerships and Business Development teams, and leads Ubisoft’s physical and digital game revenue efforts for the North, South and Central America territories.
Early brings an impressive breadth of experience with prior roles at Microsoft, most recently serving as the general manager for Windows Gaming Technology where he led development efforts designed to extend game experiences across multiple platforms and grow Microsoft’s casual and core gaming audiences. Early also served as president and chief operating officer of GameSpy and executive vice president and general manager of Mplayer. Early’s entrepreneurial exploits include founding Corporate Computer Rental and being a ComputerLand franchisee.
Early holds a BA in Economics and a BA in International Management from Claremont Men’s College.
Eric is a 30-year veteran of the game, consumer online, and wireless data industries, serving in capacities ranging from game designer to executive.
Since 2002, Eric is or has been a board member of, advisor or consultant to AOL, AT&T Wireless, Centerscore, Digital Chocolate, Electronic Arts, Exponential Entertainment, Gaia Online, HipLogic, In-Fusio, Juice Wireless, Kayak (dba Blaze), Lifetime, LimeLife, Meredith, Mforma (dba Hands-On Mobile), Moloon, Openwave, PaymentOne, PickTeams (fka GoCrossCampus), Reaxion, rmbrME, Thumbplay, Unplugged, Vindigo, Warner Music, YouPlus, and two US venture capital firms.
Eric was most recently the President and Co-Founder of Unplugged, for which he secured distribution with four of the five largest North American carriers. Previously, he served as President and Founder of Crossover Technologies, one of the first consumer online companies, for which he secured AOL, BMG, Discovery Channel, Intel, Microsoft, Prodigy (IBM/Sears/CBS joint venture), Random House, Sony, Time Warner, and Viacom as clients and distribution partners; and, prior to that, as President of West End Games, the adventure game company for which he published, among 40+ titles, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, and Junta. His award-winning games include Paranoia, Tales of the Arabian Nights, The Tom Peters Business School in a Box, and MadMaze, the first online game to draw one million players. He is a three-time winner of the Origins Award for Best Role-Playing Game and a two-time winner of the Game Designers Guild Select Award.
Eric is a regular speaker at the major North American games, wireless and online conferences, including CTIA, MECCA, Internet World, The Conference Board, DMW, GDC, GDC Mobile, MES, AGC, MGC, LA Games Conference, and E3, and has served as a programs advisor or advisory board member for the latter six conferences. He was previously a board member for the New York New Media Association and New York University’s Center for Advanced Digital Applications.
Michael leads the company’s gaming vertical, providing a wide variety of market research and analysis products to help clients gain a comprehensive understanding of consumer gaming habits and interest and make strategic decisions. Prior to joining Interpret, Cai served as Director of Digital Media and Gaming for Parks Associates. During his tenure with Parks Associates, Cai established and grew its gaming coverage practice and led a research team to provide syndicated and custom research for digital media, gaming and service provider industries.
As the Founder and CEO of Firefly Games, also the former CEO of ZQGame Inc. (U.S. Subsidiary) and President (Overseas) of ShenZhen ZQGame (a publicly traded online gaming company), Michael Zhang is a serial entrepreneur in online/mobile gaming, E-commerce and social network businesses with 20 years working (14+ years management) experience. In Jan., 2015, Michael founded Firefly Games Inc., a global publisher and developer of mobile games with offices in Los Angeles and Shanghai. The company’s valuation has become $100M in 2016 and it was selected as the top 50 LA startups to watch in 2017. In 2008 he co-founded and became the CEO of Ray Flame Entertainment Inc., a MMO-browser/SNS game publisher/developer in Los Angeles. Prior to Ray Flame, Michael was the General Manager of THS International Inc., the world largest MMORPG virtual currency provider. Also he served the U.S. General Manager position of an Online Game Publisher – VestGame Entertainment.
With more than 25 years’ in virtual reality, video games, and entertainment, Shiraz Akmal has deep, hands-on experience building new entertainment businesses with cutting-edge technology. Akmal is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of SPACES, a leading immersive entertainment company that was spun out of DreamLab where Akmal formerly led business and product development for all of the virtual reality projects for DreamWorks Animation prior to 2016. He also served as VP of operations-product development for video game company THQ.
Akmal has led fundraising of over $10.2 Million dollars for SPACES with prominent industry partners and led his organization to become a Comcast Ventures Portfolio Company.
He is a mentor for Boost VC, the pre-eminent accelerator for emerging technology, and his career highlights include directing a string of multi-million-dollar selling video game titles, including Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and Scooby-Doo!
Akmal and SPACES co-founder Brad Herman are inventors of multiple patented VR technologies.
Bruce Vaughn currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Dreamscape Immersive. As the company’s CEO, Bruce is responsible for setting Dreamscape’s corporate direction and strategy, as well as helping to cultivate a strong working environment where his world class team is driven to perform at the top of their abilities.
Prior to joining Dreamscape, Vaughn was Chief Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering for the Walt Disney Company. In this role, he lead the integrated creative teams of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), Disney’s Creative Entertainment (DCE) and WDI Research and Development to drive excellence in product development and innovation. The scope of Vaughn’s responsibilities included theme park attractions and special effects, innovative theater experiences, and new business opportunities that leverage invented and emerging technologies.
Chris Heatherly is a games and media executive in Los Angeles. He worked for The Walt Disney Company for 14 yrs as it’s Vice President of Toys and later Senior Vice President of Disney Interactive where he oversaw Disney’s massively multiple online worlds and mobile gaming efforts, including Club Penguin, Star Wars Commander, Frozen Free Fall, and Disney Emoji Blitz. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President of NBCUniversal’s gaming efforts he led a push into gaming, most notably with the Jurassic World franchise, including the launch of the mobile location/AR hit, Jurassic World Alive, and a successful console game, Jurassic World Evolution. He also drove innovation in VR/XR with location based virtual reality experiences for Jurassic World and How to Train Your Dragon. Heatherly is currently working with mobile games leader N3TWORK and leading Funko Pop! Blitz, a multi-IP casual mash-up based on the successful toy brand.
For the past 20 years, Ned Sherman has worked in the entertainment, media and technology industries with a focus on dealmaking, investments, growth strategies and M&A.
He is a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, a global professional services firm, where he leads the Digital & Technology Transactions Unit (representing top tier entertainment, tech and CE companies); director of Manatt Digital, the firm’s management consulting group; and a member of the investment committee for the Manatt Venture Fund. He is an active investor through Goal Venture Partners.
He is also Chairman and co-founder (previously CEO & Publisher) of Digital Media Wire, Inc., a marketing and strategy consulting firm that represents an A-List clientele of entertainment, media and technology brands and owns and operates media properties and events.
He has spent some time working with talent including as Global Artist Manager and General Counsel to multi-platinum, Korean-American hip-hop artist Jay Park (now signed to Roc Nation) and held legal and executive leadership positions at several media company ventures and with a boutique media-focused investment bank.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, a master’s business degree from HEC Paris School of Management and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law.